Archive | August, 2013

The Trophy Wives Club

9 Aug

The Trophy Wives Club

Kristen Billerbeck

Publisher: Harper Collins e-books

Publication Date: 2007

Paperback: 272 pages, but I clearly didn’t read it as a paperback. While living in Mexico it’s very difficult for poor little me to get my hands on paper and glue novels… in English that is.

Book Blurb:

Haley Cutler is the consummate trophy wife. Perhaps was is the more accurate term. Haley married Prince Charming when she was only twenty–back in the day when highlights came from an afternoon at the beach, not three hours in the salon.

Unfortunately, after seven years as Jay Cutler’s wife, a role that provided significance and what she thought was love, Jay walks out, and Haley finds herself with few life skills that translate to the real world, not to mention a sense of amnesia about who she used to be. But before Haley can find her way, she must meet with Jay’s lawyer, the strikingly handsome Hamilton Lowe. Although she can’t stand his self-righteous contempt for her divorce, she takes his suggestion to attend a group at his church called “The Trophy Wives Club,” a Bible study composed of women who have been dealt a raw deal. Haley’s never been into the whole Jesus thing but could really use some friends to walk her through this phase (how do you apply for a credit card anyway?).

As Haley begins to realize that she really can stand on her own two feet, she also learns that sometimes in losing we find the real reward . . .

Stand alone or series: It seems to me this was written like a stand alone but I know there’s another in this series. I like a completed novel, I don’t like an ending where I feel like I’m only part way through the story so I like this kind of series writing.

Why I read this book: The title was catchy and I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover but I really like the cover. It was so clean. Also, this author wrote a fantastic teen series that I’m more than a bit envious of so I wanted to check out her adult titles. And I could get it at the library!


Wow. Can I say, poor girl. Her husband locked her out of the house and cut off all money as a way of telling her their marriage was over. Ouch. Haley became accustomed to a certain standard of living while with her husband, or rather she was told to. She was also told how to dress, how to act, what to like for seven years. She’s lost herself so much in her husband that she can’t remember what she used to like, so she hunkers down with daytime television and chocolate frosting as her friends. She finds real friends in The Trophy Wives Club. These quirky and beyond gorgeous women help her to find her footing and regain her life, sense of pride and self.

Now, I’m gonna warn you. What’s below could be considered as spoiler-ish. However I don’t think it’s anything you won’t figure out by chapter two or, really, just by knowing the genre. So read on if you dare.

Much of the novel Haley spends angry or self-pitying, not that I don’t get where she’s coming from, but may not be what you’re expecting from a novel that looks like some fun chick lit. Haley’s anger presents another problem. Her interest in he-who-must-not-be-named, doesn’t come off quite right. Her transformation from hating him to… let’s just say interest in him is not a smooth transition. She claims throughout the novel that she does not want a man, does not want or trust love. Now this is normal fare for chick lit, but when other heroines claim this I say, “Yeah right.” When Haley makes this claim I say, “I don’t blame you, I don’t think I would either.” So her attempts at testing romance with her “lab rats” come off as insincere and nothing more than she claims: experiments. In fact, I didn’t even realize that she was testing lab rat A until she says so to a friend long after the fact. I like to slowly fall for the hero alongside the heroine so that when that long, slow kiss finally comes I get the jitters just like her. This time that didn’t happen.

This was a good read, quick, but I gotta admit I like Billerbeck’s Universally Misunderstood series miles better. The bitter undercurrent throughout the novel is just not my cup of tea, though Billerbeck did it justice. Haley’s journey from bitter to redemptive was not quite smooth. We’re more told of her change of heart than we see it for most of the story. She skips many meetings and attends church and reads her Bible as a favor to a friend, but we don’t see how this impacts her life, its more of a side note mentioned here and there. So when she decides she wants to get baptized I was actually quite surprised.

I would’ve liked smoother transitions, or even abrupt but justified transitions, through Haley’s different stages. However, I fully admit that this is a hard subject to tackle. I would recommend this to avid readers like myself who can’t get enough Christian fiction, but for those who haven’t much time I’ve got others at the top of my recommendation list.


Sketchy Behavior

6 Aug


Sketchy BehaviorErynn Mangum

Publisher: Zondervan

Publication Date: 2011

Paperback: 224 pages, though I read the e-book.

Book Blurb:

Drawing Conclusions or Drafting Disaster? Other than harboring a somewhat obsessive fondness for Crispix and completely swearing-off boys after a bad date (don’t ask), sixteen-year-old Kate Carter is about as ordinary as they come, except for her two notable talents: art and sarcasm. After an introduction to forensic sketching in her elective art class, Kate discovers a third and most unexpected gift: criminal profiling. Her photo-quality sketch helps the police catch a wanted murderer and earns her celebrity status in South Woodhaven Falls. But when that murderer appears to be using his friends to exact revenge, Kate goes from local hero to possible target. Will she manage to survive? Will life ever be normal again? And will local news anchor Ted Deffle ever stop sending her flowers?

Stand alone or series: Well it’s been two years since the book came out and there’s been none to follow (she usually writes in threes), so I’m gonna take a leap and say stand alone.

Why I read this book: I love, love, love the author. I read her previous two trilogies (for adults… ish) and couldn’t stop laughing. Seriously. So I wanted to see what her teen fiction would be like. And really, I’m going to eat up anything she puts out. Look for my review of her first series next month, it will be my own special b-day treat.


Meet Kate. Witty, talented and with quite a tongue. And who wouldn’t be just a bit wacky with a psychiatrist for a mom and a mathematically obsessed dad who believes in only in using logic to make decisions. But her loving and slightly odd parents helped to shape the way she sees the world, which is really quite something. Kate is an artist, but she doesn’t bother with just drawing what’s on the outside, Kate looks at the whole person, what’s inside the person and tries to capture that. It is this skill that helps her to sketch and the police to catch a killer with three murders to his name, and this same skill that puts her life in jeopardy.

Mangum’s usual subjects are twenty-something romantic comedies and I do mean comedies, Sketchy Behavior is Mangum’s first crime thriller and first teen novel. This is the first teen Christian crime novel I’ve read, but I can say it’s unlike any other crime novel I’ve read. Largely because it’s still really funny. Comedy is found in Kate’s sarcastic take on everything, though having your life threatened can put a damper on the giggles. As the threat on Kate’s life grows she turns more and more to God and to the new friends she finds in church, as the old friends fled at the first sign of danger. This book is much more plot driven than Mangum’s previous novels, so it’s hard to talk too much without giving it all away. But if you’re anything like me you’ll love the quippy voice and zany characters.

One more thing that I like about this novel, compared to Mangum’s other novels, is that the heroine’s views on boys and physicality matches her age. In her other two series, the heroines at times have a rather adolescent view on dating and kissing and, well, nothing else is ever mentioned even though both series contain multiple marriages. This kind attitude suits the sixteen year-old Kate, and not so much for twentysomethings counterparts in the Lauren Holbrook and Maya Davis series (though I still love them both).

All in all this is a fun, suspenseful novel that is not too dark for any age. Designed for high schoolers, I’d also say it’s a go for those in middle school, but I always say get them hooked young! Though be warned, after reading a Mangum novel I find my tongue full of snappy comebacks for days, they can be really funny, but don’t find yourself in trouble like the heroines so often do.

Faking Grace

2 Aug


Tamara Leigh

Publisher: Multnomah Books

Publication Date: 2008

Paperback: 378 pages

Book Blurb:

All she wants is a job. All she needs is religion. How hard can it be?

Maizy Grace Stewart dreams of a career as an investigative journalist, but her last job ended in disaster when her compassion cost her employer a juicy deadline. A part-time gig at a Nashville newspaper might be her big break.

A second job at Steeple Side Christian Resources could help pay the bills, but they only hire committed Christians. Maizy is sure she can fake it with her “Five-Step Program to Authentic Christian Faith.” If only Jack Prentiss, Steeple Side’s managing editor and British hottie, wasn’t determined to prove her a fraud.

When Maizy’s newspaper boss pressures her to expose any skeletons in Steeple Side’s closet, she must decide to deliver the dirt and secure her career or lean on her newfound faith, change the direction of her life, and pray that her colleagues—and Jack—will show her grace.

Stand alone or series: Stand alone!

Why I read this book: I was looking for something I could read without committing a lot of time and money to a series. After reading the “Maizy Grace Stewart’s 5-Step Program to Authentic Christian Faith” on the first pages I knew I was in for a laugh and that was just what I needed.


You know all those stereotypes about Christians that you kind of wish didn’t exist? Well Maizy “Grace” takes on them all, complete with below the knee skirts and a Crown of Thorns air freshener to snag a job at a Christian publishing company. Expecting to find a group of uptight, Bible beaters, she’s surprised to meet a company full of beautifully imperfect people struggling with anorexia, parents struggling with rebellious kids and men and women who battle with desire just as much as she does.

I love that Tamara Leigh does not shy away from these subjects, and even better is the lens through which she does it. At first, Grace seeks out these flaws to expose the people at the Christian company for the frauds they really are. She finds plenty of flaws in them and in herself.  Yet she doesn’t uncover a group of blatant hypocrites as she expected to find. Instead she finds regular people struggling and striving to do God’s will. This community of loving, accepting people is a great picture of the body of Christ.

And of course, what romantic comedy would be complete without an adorable guy with blue eyes and a melting British accent? However, instead of melting at first sight Jack becomes her nemesis, the questions the authenticity of her claims on Christianity and threatens to expose her secret. What happens between them is well developed and had me on my toes to see what would happen.

Leigh does a fantastic job at creating round characters, full of life and quirks. You can’t help but cheer for them through their many struggles, of their own making or of unhappy accidents. The plot keeps moving and getting thicker as revelations and obstacles crop up for Maizy and her friends. It will keep you reading til the end.

This was one of my top two reads last summer. It’s a quick, fun read that doesn’t shy away from the fact that Christians are not perfect. In fact, it’s often through those imperfections that we can draw closer to God. I recommend this book to all!